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San Diego Union-Tribune

Cancel the junket | Stadium task force has work to do at home

September 26, 2002

Abstract:
The 15-member panel has a great deal of work to do before it should consider visiting other facilities. For starters, it must determine whether Qualcomm Stadium, which recently has undergone a $78 million renovation, is physically and economically adequate for an NFL team and as a venue for future Super Bowls. If the panel reaches a decision that a new stadium is required, then and only then would it need to visit facilities in other cities.

Lamentably, at the moment the citizens group -- appointed by Mayor Murphy and the City Council -- is virtually the only entity considering ways to keep NFL football in San Diego. Concurrently with the panel's work, the Chargers and the mayor's office ought to be actively engaged in creative discussions aimed at averting the loss of the team.

Full Text:
Copyright SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE PUBLISHING COMPANY Sep 26, 2002
The Citizens Task Force on Chargers Issues has a formidable task - - to find a fiscally responsible way to keep the NFL franchise in San Diego, which potentially could include building a new football stadium. The panel's job is tough enough -- and politically hazardous enough -- without its members stirring gratuitous opposition over side issues.

That is why the task force should defer its planned trip, at taxpayer expense, to tour Denver's new stadium and attend an NFL game. Such a junket is, at the very least, premature.

The 15-member panel has a great deal of work to do before it should consider visiting other facilities. For starters, it must determine whether Qualcomm Stadium, which recently has undergone a $78 million renovation, is physically and economically adequate for an NFL team and as a venue for future Super Bowls. If the panel reaches a decision that a new stadium is required, then and only then would it need to visit facilities in other cities.

For now, it should stay at home and give its subcommittees time to pursue their assignments. The planned trip to Denver is not only a distraction but also a ripe opportunity for naysayers to dismiss the task force as already having its mind made up to seek a new stadium for the Chargers -- in short, that the panel is effectively in the pocket of the team.

Such is certainly not the case. But by rushing off to Denver at city expense the task force would merely reinforce the claims of critics who imagine conspiracies within conspiracies at City Hall.

Lamentably, at the moment the citizens group -- appointed by Mayor Murphy and the City Council -- is virtually the only entity considering ways to keep NFL football in San Diego. Concurrently with the panel's work, the Chargers and the mayor's office ought to be actively engaged in creative discussions aimed at averting the loss of the team.

At a meeting today, the task force will reconsider the Denver trip, which was voted on earlier without the advance agenda notice required by the Brown Act, California's open meetings law. The task force's previous public hearings have been very lightly attended. But our strong guess is that, if given the chance, citizens would line up to voice their opposition to the Denver junket. David Watson, chairman of the panel, was among three members who voted against the trip. As head of the task force, Watson needs to exert strong leadership to keep panel members focused on the important business at hand and not allow them to get distracted by political sideshows.

One such distraction is panel member Bruce Henderson's bid to have the task force weigh in on the Chargers' controversial seat guarantee -- as though any member with his senses intact would endorse it. The planned outing to Denver has become a similar sideshow. The task force would help itself achieve its ultimate mission by canceling the trip.



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